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Friday, September 24, 2021

To bloc or not to bloc

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In a show of hands on a motion in council, Mayor by two votes Matt Paterson will have no more influence than primary votes champion Jimmy Cocking.

Is there a point to being Mayor? Not really, unless he or she is also in the majority. And that’s five.

Is this 14th Town Council going to have a voting bloc again? Will it be progressive unlike the 13th?

Mayor Paterson, commonly regarded to be conservative, could be having a lonely time at the top: Progressive re-elected members Cocking and Marli Banks will be joined by new members Kim Hopper, Allison Bitar and Michael Liddle. Wow, thats five! How will they vote?

And not-easy-to-box Eli Melky is prone to take a look at all sorts of ideas. 

Cr Cocking had a few on his mind yesterday morning when the recount was under way: Skatepark, an Arrernte First Nations Voice Council, multi cultural advisory committee, “reaching out to the NT Government, especially the Chief Minister, and looking to re-set that relationship,” a number of advisory committees.

“We don’t have a direct link [to Arrernte people]. Tennant Creek has a circle of elders,” he told the Alice Springs News.

Maybe blocs have gone out of fashion.

Cr Cocking echoes Cr Hopper, whom he describes as “my Number Two” saying: “You’ve got to work with the whole council.”

The days when only “the five” were kept in the loop may be over, says Cr Hopper: The Council has moved more to the centre left:

“We have a lot to learn … not to form blocs …. be more fluid about the relationships … a whole of council approach.”

We asked Cr Melky this morning: Given Cr Cocking’s strong primary vote, does he have a mandate for promoting his progressive policies?

MELKY: No. His campaign didn’t indicate he had any policies that I could identify.

NEWS: What mandate does Mayor Paterson have?

MELKY: Matt doesn’t have a mandate. He said during the campaign he isn’t promising the world. Neither candidate promoted a policy. It was a contest of popularity. They appealed to the community on the basis of same old, same old.

Steve Brown, re-elected after a break, says everyone has the right to promote progressive policies: “Jimmy is no more progressive than anyone else. In fact it’s the other way ‘round so far as I’m concerned. His policies are regressive. They hold us back.

“I get on well with Jimmy, as long as we have good rational discussions.”

Mark Coffey resolutely rejects ever becoming part of any bloc, pledging to deal with “issues as they arise and in accordance to his constituents’ wishes.

“Jimmy, like everyone, has a mandate to bring forward proposals” which need to be discussed on their merits.

Does Mayor Paterson have a mandate, winning by just two votes?

“You only need to win by one,” says Cr Coffey. “That’s democracy.”

PHOTO: The counting room in Alice Springs from which the unusual two votes win for Mayor Paterson emerged late yesterday.


UPDATE 5.30pm

When asked by the Alice Springs News this afternoon whether the slim winning margin of two votes affected his authority and mandate, Mayor Paterson said this:-

And the outgoing Mayor Damien Ryan, asked to comment on the public perception of bloc voting, gave this answer:-

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